Supporters' Group VisitsAmericaOne
On Tour with AmericaOne: Sir Peter Speaks
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SAN FRANCISCO, CA - February 23, 1999 - A Special Delegation of AmericaOne supporters is visiting Auckland on a weeklong tour to learn first hand what it takes to win the America's Cup. The group includes sponsors, media contacts and committed followers. Freelance adventure sports journalist Peter Henig is traveling with the group. He is also a technology and business editor for the Red Herring magazine and online service based out of San Francisco and will post daily reports from Auckland.
Kiwiland Update - February 23, 1999
"We were broke in San Diego -- we were right out of dough," says Sir Peter Blake, head of Team New Zealand's America's Cup syndicate. "But I don't think money wins you the America's Cup -- first class airfares, fancy apartments, fancy cars don't make a boat go fast.
That may be.
However, sponsorship money was still the central reason why Sir Peter decided to stay on and lead Team New Zealand's defense of the America's Cup 2000.
"I wasn't going to do this America's Cup -- in fact, I'm not even an America's Cup aficionado," he says. "But the sponsors said 'we'll stay if you stay,' so I said 'OK, I'll stay.'"
But Sir Peter will not be staying with Team New Zealand for long. Whether the Kiwis are able to defend the Cup or not, Sir Peter will be moving on to calmer waters, taking the helm at the Cousteau Foundation starting next year, helping to further the organization's efforts in environmental education and advocacy.
"Either way, win or lose, I'm out," says the Kiwi team leader.
To sailing veterans, that's not entirely shocking news.
"He has the opportunity to clean up the oceans, rather than race boats, and that's what he wants to do,and it's what I would want to do as well, wouldn't you?" says Angus Phillips, long-time sailing writer for the Washington Post.
That's not to say Sir Peter's head is not in the America's Cup game. Although he's more land-locked this time around than he's ever been in the past -- which some would say is the wrong place for a man who lives for challenges on water -- the head of the Kiwi syndicate still understands the importance of the Cup to this small island country; as well as what it means to have 13 syndicates from eight countries, with an estimated $350 million in their pockets, gunning straight for him.
"As soon as we think we're good, we've lost," says Sir Peter. "But we were dismissed when we went to San Diego -- that is until we started to win."
So what still drives him to cross the finish line first, an achievement which has eluded AmericaOne's Skipper Paul Cayard no less than four times?
"The best part of the whole thing is the anticipation -- are we fast enough?" says Sir Peter. "But it's only a sport really -- on a day-to-day basis it's a bloody grind."
What's striking about Sir Peter's comments and candor are how different they are in attitude and sense of purpose from Mr. Cayard's own methodical and committed approach to not only winning the Cup, but to developing a racing team which can live on far beyond the life of the challenger series and America's Cup finals.
Unlike Sir Peter's alternate career plans, Mr. Cayard is clearly interested in sticking with his current business plans for the AmericaOne organization, leveraging the newest technology and sports management techniques in building an ongoing racing enterprise which will have reach and impact beyond just this America's Cup challenge.
So when pushed to explain his specific strategy and further plans for Team New Zealand, it's not surprising that Sir Peter maintained the veil of secrecy which has quickly become his team's trademark response to questions regarding their defense of the Cup; regardless of whether he's in this for the long haul or not.
"Maybe the fastest boat out here is going to sink, I don't know," says the syndicate leader cagily. "But we'll be as good as the others -- perhaps not as battle hardened as the challengers will be (after the Louis Vuitton Challenger series) but I don't think match racing really increases the speed of a boat"
What does increase the speed of a boat, then, especially when Sir Peter's last boat, Black Magic, has already proved itself to be one of the fastest boats on the planet?
"All of our boats will be black, that's all I'll say -- and they may be ready sooner than you think."
Online Investment Editor
The Red Herring Online
AmericaOneis dedicated to recapturing the America’s Cup by applying U.S. technology in computer equipment, aerodynamics, hydrodynamics, sail design, naval architecture and structural engineering to America's Cup sailboat design. Technology partners include Hewlett-Packard Company, Bellcore/SAIC and Ford Motor Company/Visteon. The AmericaOne team is comprised of 43 professionals, including 30 members of the design team actively working on the research and design of its sailboats. Operating since June 1, 1996, AmericaOne is the challenger on behalf of San Francisco’s St. Francis Yacht Club.
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